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Book Review: Wal-Mart's Egonomics

By Kevin A. Jackson |

Title:   Wal-Mart’s Egonomics – Always – the greed behind the smiley face
Author:   Charles H. Hood
Publisher:   CreateSpace
ISBN:   978-1456456008

Picture this: you pioneered a new form of advertising in retail stores, one that has been shown to increase the amount of money consumers spend on each visit. Along the way you’ve fought tooth and nail to become established in some of the larger chain stores in the US. You then have a very positive meeting with a highly placed Executive at Wal-Mart – the largest retailer in the world.

Home run! Stop the presses!

Like any other entrepreneur, author Chuck Hood was very excited when this happened in his business and immediately started the all-important process of follow-through in order to turn a smoking-hot opportunity into real business.

Yet as the title implies, Hood’s ultimate experience sours as his number one client, Wal-Mart, fails to meet its payment obligations and after granting him a brief reprieve that results from a court settlement, ultimately puts Hood’s company out of business.

While at a first glance Wal-Mart’s Egonomics could look like an attempt at petty revenge, as the story unfolds in great detail it emerges as a cautionary tale for any small company that hopes to become a supplier to Wal-Mart. There are many lessons in this story for any business owner: lured by the sheen of a single massive opportunity, Hood puts all his eggs in one basket by letting his other major accounts go.

Faced with miscommunications, corporate politics and manipulation, the author explains how he used legal action to put things right. Hood’s story is supported by copies of letters, agreements and legal documentation. After a bitter battle, Hood’s company wins a substantial settlement. What he did not realize at the time was that his opponent had taken another well-worn phrase to heart: revenge is a dish best eaten cold.

Wal-Mart’s Egonomics chronicles the experience of Hood’s company. Having read the Wal-Mart Effect I approached this book with a certain expectation and was reminded that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

Where the Wal-Mart Effect was an effort to present a broad perspective on the company and its influence on the world based on extensive research, Wal-Mart’s Egonomics is one company’s tragic experience with the retail giant. This observation is not a negative; the book was just not what I first expected.

The book’s presentation is another surprise: Unlike traditional business books, Wal-Mart’s Egonomics is a narrative interspersed with the author’s personal perspective.

I found it an easy read, and devoured it quickly – maybe because as a fellow business owner the lessons Hood had to share were things I could easily visualize myself.

The conclusions readers will draw about Wal-Mart after reading this book are likely to vary. Some are sure to agree with Hood, while others are likely to view his story as just another example of how vindictive and egotistical some people can be, without agreeing that the blame can be applied to Wal-Mart as a whole.

Our thoughts one the matter are simple: Any small business that is thinking of following in Hood’s footsteps to make Wal-Mart its primary – and possibly its only – client, should read this book first and think very carefully about the best way to proceed.

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